I like the phrase used by Husna Haq from the Christian Science Monitor- “The Wild West of Self-Publishing”!
As you all know, self-publishing has opened a door to a whole new world for aspiring independent writers, but there is a dark side to this opportunity. Pornographers have slipped through the door and now book sellers are trying to walk the fine line between banning such material outright and selective censorship. One immediate outcome is that this week I tried to send a self-published book to a Kobo reader and found their store shut down. They have removed all self-published titles until they can get a handle on this problem. And apparently Amazon and Barnes and Noble are also reviewing their titles, looking for any offensive material. Of course, there are those who feel we should be able to buy and read what we want; and who balk at such censorship.
The enormous success of Fifty Shades of Grey has fueled a firestorm of copycat writers who are trying to out-shock readers and produce the next big money maker. But there is a difference between erotica and pornography; with the former having at least an element of artistry to it, while the latter is purely directed at mankind’s fouler instincts.
It is important to point out that Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and other online bookstores prohibit such vile content: Amazon, for example, states in its guidelines for self-publishing, “We don’t accept pornographic or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.” However, despite their best efforts, some of this material has apparently slipped through. As a result, all of the major booksellers are now searching their vast libraries to remove such offensive books –not an easy job but one they have assured their readers they are doing.
Needless to say, this sordid episode risks casting a shadow over the entire field of self-publishing; and threatens the good character of self-published authors whose books are worth a reader’s time and money. Hopefully, this will be a mid-course correction for the world of online book selling, and not a permanent road block to self-publishing.
So what do you think? Is censorship in this case justified? Or should consumers have the right to read whatever they choose?
Join the conversation and share your views on how this will affect self-publishing.
It makes it so much more important for good self-published/indie authors to seek validation and critical assessment!
A difficult question to answer. I think degrading and bestial are obviously no-nos, as are ‘snuff’- books or movies. The problem is that one person’s fun is another’s poison. We don’t want to turn out generation of prissy, censorious children, but neither do we want them to be shocked or damaged by inappropriate images or words.
I think appropriateness, dignity, consideration and liberal are all important words. Broadly, my default position would be to publish everything, but sift for dubious matter. I’m glad I’m not one of the arbiters.
I agree that censorship is a slippery slope. I do feel though that a business such as amazon’s KDP who states that they do not accept such pornography should have some format in place to protect their customers form the type filth that has been discussed in all the press lately. You either do accept it or you don’t and if you do, there should be a separate page for it alone. They are responsible for letting it get into children’s book shelves.
ebook censorship will make the contributions of organizations such as B.R.A.G. all the more important as they will de facto provide a screening process for self published books. Hopefully this will carry some weight with the Kobo and Kindle outlets. Now I am doubly pleased to be a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree … thank you Geri!
We are proud to have you join us Carollyne! It is a daunting job for sites like Kobo to go through every self-published book to sort out the offensive ones -they should just post all the B.R.A.G.Medallion honorees!
Any project worth doing needs an umpire of some sort, especially if it’s put in the public domain, otherwise it becomes a joyless, ugly fiasco with no holds barred. In self publishing, like any other form of publishing, there must be objective gate-keepers acting on behalf of readers, booksellers and especially authors. That is why indieBRAG has such a unique role to play.
There should be joy in writing a good book and pride in a job well done. I think we are finding the books that have been given the attention to detail and, most importantly, the talent that is required to produce a good book.